On the one hand, yes, I have been reading that book. And once you get past some of the new-age BS talk, it’s very good. I want to own a copy, maybe more than one so we can easily loan them out (I’m reading a copy from the library). I think it could do a lot of people a great deal of good to be much more honest with themselves and everyone else in their lives. I think we’d have a far healthier world if everyone were a lot more honest. I also know that a lot of people aren’t ready to even read the book, much less apply its contents to their lives.
Oddly enough, the passage that is sticking with me the most isn’t even by Blanton. It’s quoted from John Stevens’ book Awareness: Exploring, Experimenting, Experiencing.
A great deal has been written about trust and love, and that if you can build a trusting, loving relationship, then people can be honest with each other. I believe this idea is exactly backwards. It is very nice if I feel trusting and loving toward someone, but if I don’t feel this way, what can I do about it? Trust and love are my feeling responses toward another person, and these responses cannot be manufactured. Either I feel love or I don’t. All the emphasis on trust and love results in many people pretending to feel trust and love “because it is healthy, and will bring about closeness, honesty, etc.” — adding a new area of phoniness and dishonesty in their behavior.
Honesty, however, is a behavior and is something I can choose or not choose. I cannot decide to love or trust, but I can decide to be personally honest or not. And when I choose to be really honest and say what I experience and what I feel, I am showing that I can be trusted.
This is the only kind of behavior that can bring about a response of trust. Trust is my response to a person that I know I can believe. Even if I dislike a person, I can trust him if he is honest with me, and I can respect his willingness to be himself honestly.
Likewise, honesty does not always bring a response of love, but it is absolutely essential to it. When I am honestly myself, and you respond warmly and with caring, then love exists. If I calculate and put on phony behavior in order to please you, you may love my behavior, but you cannot love me, because I have hidden my real existence behind this artificial behavior. Even when you love in response to my phony behavior, I cannot really receive your love. It is poisoned by my knowledge that the love is for the image I have created, not for me. I also have to be continually on guard to be sure that I maintain my image so that your love does not disappear. Since I have shut myself off from your love in this way, I will feel more lonely and unloved, and try even more desperately to manipulate myself and you in order to get this love.
In contrast, when I am honestly myself and you respond to me as I am in that moment, I can receive this fully and know the satisfaction of being really related with you. This honest relating is not always joyful or pleasant — it is sometimes sad, sometimes angry, etc. — but it is always solid and real and vitally alive.
I first tried to read Radical Honesty several years ago, when my friend Ron started raving about it. I couldn’t get through it. I checked out the book on tape and zoned out every time I started to listen to it. I suppose I wasn’t ready at that time.
I have been consciously trying to be more aware of my feelings when I experience them and to be more honest about them immediately. I wasn’t being dishonest about them before—but I’d realize a day or so after something happened that no, it wasn’t okay with me. And, hopefully, why. And I wouldn’t necessarily feel that it was important enough to go back and tell Sam about them, so he felt somewhat surprised because I am speaking up more quickly now.
So I guess I am being more honest now. But I can’t really say it’s because of the book, or that it’s necessarily radical.